July 8, 2013 - CISAC Op-ed
How Syria's Civil War Became a Holy Crusade
Appeared in Foreign Affairs, July 8, 2013
Syria's civil war, already a microcosm of politics and power in the Middle East, could inflame religious tensions and political differences across the region. Theologian and top Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi called for Sunni Muslims worldwide to fight in Syria against Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah, and Shiite influence.
Qaradawi's call, echoed by other prominent Sunni theologians, could flood Syria with even more foreign fighters. Thomas Hegghammer and co-author Aaron Zelin estimate that Syria has more than 5,000 Sunni foreign fighters, the second-largest foreign-fighter destination in the history of modern Islamism, and that the number is slated to double in the near future.